Over the past few years, the stage has been set for greater implementation of IoT projects across various industries and use cases. In 2019, we can expect that the availability and access to location services will expand beyond individual sites to a larger scale as we look forward to wider enterprise adoption. I also anticipate that in the coming year buildings will get smarter, both by initial design and through retrofitting and adaptation, and that there will be some prescient changes in the indoor mapping and positioning technology provider landscape.
I believe that 2019 will be the year that we begin establishing a solid foundation for a truly frictionless experience of place, and we can expect IoT and location-based technologies to shift in several important ways to support this progression.
Next year, we’ll start to see enterprise-wide deployments of full location services, which is a foundational component to executing on many future IoT use cases. This shift at the enterprise level is the result of many proof of concept projects that have been taking place over the last few years in various industries. Some of these POCs have succeeded while others haven’t. Regardless, the enterprises that have undertaken these projects have figured out which infrastructure they’re willing to use from a cost and usability perspective. More importantly, through their investigation into the use case, organizations have a much deeper understanding of the value proposition. So naturally, we’re also starting to see that enterprise organizations who began the digitization and experimentation process in the past few years are now on the cusp of enterprise-wide IoT deployments across thousands of facilities.
In the wake of these projects, many organizations have recognized the need for their buildings to be digitally addressable with geospatially accurate indoor maps, along with the need to be able to easily manage these maps. With these pieces of the puzzle coming together, we’ll start to see these organizations execute IoT use cases beyond single sites and across their enterprises. At the onset, we can expect organizations to begin by addressing one or two pain points, perhaps asset tracking and wayfinding, before expanding to build upon those foundations. Once assets are digitized and a space is digitally addressable, the potential is nearly limitless and use cases can be implemented at scale.
I predict that 2019 will be the first year of true enterprise testing — with a limited number of use cases — and that enterprises will grow and build upon these use cases in the coming years.
Increasing Deployment of Sensors & Smarter Buildings
In the coming year, we’ll see larger-scale deployments of sensors embedded into lights and other furniture in both new developments and older building retrofits. That’s not to say that sensors will be completely ubiquitous by the end of the year, but the incorporation of location sensors or beacons will become the standard in new buildings. This trend will mitigate pain points we’ve seen around the lifetime of battery-based beacons and make it significantly easier to enable IoT projects with native infrastructure.
I see architects and building developers increasingly incorporating location-based technologies into a building’s design, wiring walls and furniture with sensors from the outset, setting a solid foundation for smart buildings.
As the adoption of technology becomes more mainstream, it will begin to force the modernization of legacy systems. Building systems that have been around for a long time, those responsible for running building automation and core services such as HVAC and security systems, are having to modernize to support interoperability and serve clients’ evolving needs and use cases.
In the next two years, I anticipate that most major cities will be home to a few truly smart buildings. It’s important to note that construction projects of this magnitude take a long time. This transition is still in its infancy and smart buildings will not be omnipresent for some time. It will likely be another few years before we truly see the effects of this.
Interoperability is Key
The cornerstone of all IoT deployments is vendor interoperability. No one system within a building can address every use case enterprise-wide. The reality is that open architectures and partner ecosystems will be key — vendors have to play nicely with each other, or else risk being completely replaced. Legacy vendors may find they’re not as sticky as they once were, and some may not be able to avoid this fate as there are now formidable players on the field that have modern technology, and if legacy systems aren’t able to integrate or scale, then they will likely be out.
As a result, we’re going to start seeing large legacy players having to invest in modernizing their technology stacks to support the Internet of Things. For example, vendors that don’t export common and compatible file types like GeoJSON maps, will need to start adapting to meet clients’ increasing demands for new technology standards. Ten years ago, it may have been assumed that systems would always be closed loop, however, there are now too many compelling IoT use cases that are impossible to achieve without the ability to integrate multiple systems and data sources.
This will also be a key difference between the aforementioned new builds and retrofits. New buildings are able to select a series of vendors with technology stacks that meet their current and future needs, whereas retrofits need to negotiate between legacy vendors and systems and desired use cases. There are millions of these retrofits happening globally, and the organizations undertaking these overhauls want to be able to benefit from the IoT use cases that will have a significant business impact, so interoperability is an immediate need that we’ll see being addressed in 2019.
IoT Vendor Consolidation
The IoT space is nearing a consolidation of players. With so many vendors trying to solve for the same problems, targeting the same use cases, and wanting to own their field with the same customers, it is inevitable that some will some will win, some will lose, and some will be acquired. We’ll see this across sensors, beacons, mapping companies and manufacturers who are all trying to address the same problems as a property manager.
Being a foundational piece of any indoor IoT use case, I have a pretty great view from the indoor mapping vantage point, and it seems to me that 2019 will be an exciting year for the Internet of Things. As we approach the precipice of critical digital transformation across our cities, buildings and public spaces, these key pieces falling into place are fundamental to our progression to a frictionless world.